• nonribosomal peptide synthetase;
  • polyketide synthetase;
  • phylogeny;
  • Cordyceps


Species of Cordyceps Fr. are entomopathogenic fungi that parasitize the larvae or pupae of lepidopteran insects. The secondary metabolites, nonribosomal peptides and polyketides are well-known mediators of pathogenesis. The biosynthetic gene clusters of these compounds in two fungal strains (1630 and DSM 1153) formerly known as Cordyceps militaris were screened using polymerase chain reaction with degenerate primers. Two nonribosomal peptide synthetase genes, one polyketide synthetase gene and one hybrid gene cluster were identified, and certain characteristics of the structures of their potential products were predicted. All four genes were actively expressed under laboratory conditions but at markedly different levels. The gene clusters from the two fungal strains were structurally and functionally unrelated, suggesting different evolutionary origins and physiological functions. Phylogenetic and biochemical analyses confirmed that the two fungal strains are not conspecific as currently assigned.